Law of nature Using your wisdom Bringing up little children Bringing up teenagers
The law of nature
Putting it bluntly, parental care is the law of nature in operation. Both the elderly as well as the very young have varying levels of inability to attend to their physical needs, hence are dependant on others to take care of them to that extent. Yet there is a marked difference when it comes to who is dependent, the children or the elderly.
Whereas an elder person in advanced years has almost completed his or her role to support the family, the baby, though most helpless, has to live on in order to continue the generation. Therefore the baby has to use all its charms to make the parent/guardian look forward to taking care of it.
While caring for the elderly needs a great deal of Agape love, caring for children is more pleasurable because of the mutual flow of oxytocin that enhances the Storge form of love between children and the persons who bring them up. The endearing qualities of children have greater survival value.
Young adults in healthy families usually know in their hearts that their parents or grandparents, who are physically weak now, were the ones who had taken care of them and brought them up from babyhood; hence they need to be repaid by honouring them and taking good care of them in their advanced years. Your children, too, will keenly watch how you take care of your old parents. Children are excellent imitators, you know! Honouring your father and mother also comes with a great reward. Click here to know what that reward is.
Using your wisdom
We said above that parental care is ‘the law of nature in operation’. Yet in order to bring up the children in the right manner, mere ‘law of nature’ will not suffice. One needs to use considerable wisdom as well. It is a tremendous responsibility that God has bestowed upon every parent or other guardians. Otherwise the chances are that they would grow up to be social misfits and bring pain and agony to themselves and to their family and friends.
Parents should remember a few important facts:
1. It is in your hand either to nurture your child’s emotional, mental and intellectual well-being or destroy it. Through love and care even a young child who is autistic or partially mentally challenged can be transformed into an almost near normal individual. In the same way, even the mild mental handicap of a child can become full-blown if he/she is brought up with negativity, no love and neglect. Even normal children can turn into social misfits through indelible and sustained emotional onslaughts from misguided parents/guardians.
2. Do not put undue pressure on your children for academic excellence. While you may teach them to be disciplined in their day-to-day life and in their studies, do not expect every child to become a rank holder. Children preparing for exams should be assured that you would continue to love them even if they scored poorly after a good attempt. The pressure from parents to excel are so high, these days, that some children may plan on committing suicide or run away from home, or suffer a mental breakdown.
3. Do not force your will on your children to choose their career. In southern India, many parents want their boys and girls to join either medicine or engineering, the former being their first choice. Once I was talking to a bright young man doing his Masters in environmental biology. He revealed that he completed an engineering degree before taking up environmental biology. I was puzzled why he had to undergo a four-year engineering degree course before signing up for a totally different programme. He said the engineering degree was to fulfill his parent’s wish. Not many students are so resolute and lucky. They usually become misfits in their life because of a wrong career forced upon them by their parents.
Case study 1.
There was a teenager in our area whose father terrorized her to read her books until midnight. No entertainment and less sleep. She was not an Einstein, but a lovely, well-behaved girl with normal intelligence. Finally her school results came and she had failed in one subject. Afraid to face the father, she swallowed a poison and locked herself in. It took nine days of detoxification to get her back. My wife and I spent time with the parents explaining to them that their daughter is more important to them than her scores. Many other students in India are not so fortunate as she was.
Case study 2.
A boy in Malaysia, son of two medical doctors who wanted him to make it to the top to be considered for a medical seat. Unable to endure relentless pressure from the parents to excel, he suffered a severe mental breakdown. He did not recognize anyone including his parents; expressed no emotions; and stared vaguely into empty space. Medical treatment did not help. The parents, unable to manage him, requested a kind-hearted elderly couple, who loved children and had a few adopted children in addition their own, to take care of him.
Dear parents, perhaps you are not aware that academic excellence is not the only thing that makes a successful human being.
Case study 3.
A bright young boy in Bombay (now Mumbai) loved painting and was selected for state level competitions. When the time came to chose his career education he wanted to join the famous JJ School of Arts. However, he was pressurized by his parents into studying engineering, which he scraped through. The last time I saw him, he was married and had a child, but was sitting at home without a job.
Bringing up little children
Now let us go back to little children. Human young ones have an extended childhood. Infants to toddlers, preschoolers, grade-schoolers and teenagers – all these are various stages of childhood although the latter part of teenage is closer to adulthood. Parents have the responsibility to bring them up as better humans within the family and the society. It is the privilege of you, parents/guardians, to make them grow into responsible citizens who will be a pride to the family and a blessing to the society.
There is another thing, which you should take into account. Your little ones may appear thoroughly innocent and incapable of doing wrong. However, there is enough evidence to show that children around late preschool stage (the borderline is not clearly definable, though) do start to discern right from wrong. Wise parental guidance is a must at least from this point onwards.
Parents should not allow their children to go ahead and commit all the wrongs they want (‘My son is too young to think or act wickedly’ – some parents may assert) and then hope that one day, as a teenager or adult, he/she would become a refined person. Far from that! Children should not be given unlimited freedom to do anything they want. You are accountable for their souls, too.
Children are like a young calf tied to a long rope. They would use the maximum stretchable area within the radius, and may sometime even think that the parents are impossible. However, right inside their heart they do know that their parents care for them and that the parents are right, at least for the most part!.
Children must be protected from predators on the prowl until they can fend for themselves. I remember how a lioness once handled her parental role in the Gir Forest in western India. She was striding through an open forest patch with two young cubs tumbling alongside. Presently one of the cubs strays a little to explore something in the grass. Immediately I could hear a sharp and muffled growl from the mother; and the next instant the cub was back on track! There were hungry hyenas and leopards in the jungle; and the mother was well aware of that.
The following sites will give you excellent ideas on this topic. Although some are written by experts who happen to be Christians, the information given will immensely benefit all parents irrespective of which religion (or no religion) you are born in.
Bringing up teenagers
Although term ‘teenage’ is based on the calendar years that are suffixed with teen, this period also brings to focus a major stage in life between childhood and adulthood. This is the period when a boy of a girl is usually in the biological state of adolescence. Biologically speaking, adolescence is the in-between period when the individual is neither a full child nor a full adult. It is the transitional period when they have entered puberty but are not fully mature physically, physiologically, emotionally and intellectually to enter into a mature sexual relationship with the opposite sex and successfully raise a family.
Those children who are in the lower and upper borderlines of adolescence carry most of the characteristics of the stage that is close to the borderline. In other words, the adolescents who are on the lower end are more child-like and those on the higher end are more adult-like. All the same, they are all essentially children who have started to experience something different from what they are used to, all these years, and yet are not fully into it.
They need continual guidance although they also need to have a certain amount of personal space and freedom from parental control. Parents have a great and responsible role to play during this period. Parents come in many forms. Some give their children excellent person to person guidance. Some let their children go through the adolescent stage all by themselves, with no parental guidance. Some parents deal with it indirectly by making available to them necessary information by way of literature, exposure to healthy social interactions, speeches by spiritual mentors, good friends, etc. Yet some other parents exert too much control over their growing children and try to make them feel guilty of even perfectly normal and healthy activities of their age group.
As we discussed about smaller children under ‘Bringing up little children‘, even the teenagers are children and like a young calf tied to a long rope. They would use the maximum stretchable area within the radius of the invisible rope, and may sometime even decide that their parents are impossible. However, as we read earlier, right inside their heart they would know that their parents care for them and that they (parents) are mostly right. They would feel unloved and deserted if parents let them go fully free. They must be safeguarded from the evils of the world, until they can fend for themselves.
You can visit Teenage in our website for additional input. Parents may also wish to visit one or more of the following excellent websites for more information. Although some of these are authored by experts who happen to be Christians, the message is applicable for all teens and their parents irrespective of the religion (or no religion) you are born in.
- Parenting Teenagers
- Raising Godly children
- Five ways to Raise Teens who Love God (mainly for Christians)
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